June 27th, 2014
09:26 AM ET
4 months ago

McDaniel says 'hundreds' of irregularities found in Mississippi race

(CNN) - Three days after Mississippi's bitter Republican Senate primary runoff ended, the challenger in the race refuses to concede, charging that "this was not a fair election. Activity was illegal, at worst. Unethical, at best."

And in an exclusive interview with CNN affiliate WLOX, state Sen. Chris McDaniel said he was shocked at how fellow Republicans verbally attacked him after he announced a primary challenge against six-term Sen. Thad Cochran.

McDaniel, who enjoyed strong support from tea party and anti-establishment groups, narrowly edged out Cochran in the June 3 primary, but with neither man cracking 50% (there was a third Republican candidate on the ballot who grabbed 1.5% of the vote), the contest moved to Tuesday's runoff, which Cochran won by fewer than 7,000 votes.

Tea party leader connected to photo conspiracy involving Cochran's wife found dead from possible suicide

Cochran's victory was aided votes from African-American Democrats, who were actively courted during the runoff campaign by pro-Cochran forces. According to Mississippi law, voters are not required to register with a political party, and anyone who doesn't vote in a primary election can cast a ballot in either party's runoff.

But McDaniel told WLOX on Thursday that his camp has already found irregularities in Tuesday's election.

"Republicans are supposed to choose the Republican nominee in the U.S. Senate. That's not what happened here. Thirty-five- to 40,000 Democrats jumped into this race and apparently tried to decide it. They have their own primary. We have ours. What we're looking for right now is irregularities. We already found hundreds, and we're going to keep looking," McDaniel said.

McDaniel added that those irregularities include people who first voted in the Democratic primary, then illegally crossed over to vote in the Republican runoff.

McDaniel repeated his earlier vow to use every legal maneuver available to fight Tuesday's results, adding that "integrity of elections matters. It always has mattered."

And McDaniel he said that the pro-Cochran forces should be ashamed of the strategy they used in urging black Democrats to vote for the senator.
"They called me a racist. They used race-baiting tactics. They scared people to the polls. That's no way to behave. They used people, and that's no way to behave," he said.

More than 61,000 more people voted in Tuesday's runoff than in the June 3rd Senate primary. It's extremely rare that turnout increases in a runoff election. And turnout in Mississippi's majority African-American districts increased at a much higher rate than overall turnout.

But those who backed Cochran defend their actions.

In an interview with CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash on Wednesday, Henry Barbour, the nephew of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who steered the pro-Cochran Mississippi Conservatives, said, "In America, we have a right to vote. And in Mississippi, we don't register by party. So whites and blacks get to vote in the Republican primary if they decide, and I think the Constitution gives them that right. So, I'm afraid he's [McDaniel] wrong, I mean, people have a right to vote and I'm damned proud to have asked them for their support."

Complete Coverage: 2014 Midterm Elections

And Barbour said that some Democrats may have been converted.

"I'll tell you, some of the Democrats that we were recruiting to vote for Sen. Cochran - some of them have called me talking about switching," Barbour said. "This is how you grow."

In the interview with WLOX, McDaniel also said he has "no hard feelings" toward Republican leaders in Mississippi, but that he is still shocked at how they attacked him.

"I never thought that me, as a two-term Republican elected official, would be treated the way I was. It was character assassination. They [fellow Republicans] attacked me every chance they got. They ridiculed me. They mocked me. And that was an about-face from the way they treated me just prior to my primary challenge."

CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this story


Filed under: 2014 • Chris McDaniel • Mississippi • Senate Primaries • Senate Race • Thad Cochran
soundoff (581 Responses)
  1. Bob Dow

    The Republican establishment should be ashamed if itself! McDaniel got more Republican votes in BOTH elections!!The claim that Black Democrats "support" Cochran is laughably absurd. If that were true, why didn't they turn out and vote for him in the FIRST primary (before the runoff)??? NOW, let's just see whom they vote for in November!!! IS THERE ANY DOUBT THEY WILL VOTE FOR THE DEMOCRAT??????

    June 27, 2014 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  2. American Patriot

    The key here which all the liberal commenters on this site have overlooked (or just don't care about) is per Mississippi law you can only vote in one parties primary. What is being discovered is that some of the Democrat voters in the Republican run-off primary also voted in the Democrat primary. That is called voter fraud. If Cochran had an ounce of integrity in him HE would be the one conceding.

    June 27, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  3. westside

    So democrats complain about the Neocons then vote them back in. Funny how double standards work.

    June 27, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  4. Chris

    McDaniels does not seem to get IF he had gotten elected he would have represented the people of the whole state of Mississippi not just the Republicans but Democrats & Independents. When you are in an elected office you represent the people who voted for you & the people who didn't.

    June 27, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  5. Ariela

    @Mike.....LMAO!!! That's too funny.

    The GOP sure don't take losing too well do they? Well, they better get use to it because I don't see them winning any national elections in the foreseeable future.

    June 27, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  6. Cinman

    Somebody needs a wwaaammmbulance. Guess he doesn't want to find a real job.

    June 27, 2014 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  7. Gary

    The biggest "irregularity" is that McDaniels ran. His extreme views alarmed voters and they responded appropriately. Don't go away angry, McDaniels. Just go away.

    June 27, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  8. Bonman

    So what were the irregularities? MacDaniel and his likes always use codes like "irregularities". They just throw words and accusations around without a single evidence. Black people voting in a State where it is the law for anybody to vote regardless of party affiliation, is not an irregularity. I wish more voters will vote in elections like this to teach the likes of MacDaniel (and there are so many of them out there) a lesson in civics.

    June 27, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  9. Brad Cozzens

    I'm sorry that nobody taught you that life isn't fair. Grow a pair and understand that things happen that aren't always what we want. Pull on your big boy pants and get over it and stop whining.

    June 27, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  10. Randy

    As a voter from Mississippi it was my right to vote as long as i had not voted on June 3rd. It was verified by county pole workers before i was given the card for the machine. McDaniel says more than 61,000 more people voted on Tuesday versus June 3rd.. McDaniel says Thad asked for the liberal democratic black voters help. There was only a little over 6,000 votes difference between the two. Sounds like maybe some of the people he is complaining about voting voted for him.

    June 27, 2014 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  11. Gary

    It is obvious that the great majority of Republican voters wanted McDaniel on the Nov. ballot. This election does
    indeed need to be vetted for irregularities. And, George, just exactly what are these voter ID laws that are going to cause blatant voter suppression?

    June 27, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  12. Vinny

    Ok, let's give McDaniel the benefit of the doubt. Say there are 1000 irregularities. What is the solution. Do you take those thousand (which you have no idea for sure who they voted for) and take them away from Cochran and give them to McDaniel He still loses by 4000 votes. I vote in Texas with open primaries and run offs. It's pretty hard to vote irregularly here. In the primary they stamp your voter card which primary you voted in, When you go to a runoff they check and make sure you are eligible to vote in that election.

    June 27, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  13. JC

    Mississippi voters understand that their state owes its survival to casino's and transfers from the US Federal Gov't. Transfers are either direct payments or funding for Federal Projects (e.x. Military ships). McDaniel is either naive or simply ran a campaign based on a "false flag".

    Sen Cochran much like the former Sen. Lott brings home the bacon to Mississippi.

    Now, if State Law forbids people from voting in primarys for different parties in the same election then there may be a problem. It would not make sense to allow a voter to vote in a primary for Candidate A of Party Y and then vote in a runoff election for Candidate B of Party Z who's competing against your Candidate A.

    June 27, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  14. Tough USA

    If he can't lie, cheat and steal like real liberals and republicans he deserves to lose.

    June 27, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    It's obvious to me that people commenting here really don't care about voting integrity. If Republicans were to stack the ballot box I believe liberals would be the ones crying foul play. I believe McDaniel needs to concede but as far as looking into illegal voting...I'm all for him and anyone else rooting out illegal voting. This is why voter ID is important. Anyone thinking this is restricting votes better make sure they petition our government to stop asking for ID when getting any type of government assistance, library card, apartment/housing...etc. I'm sure most would also oppose a free voter ID card because it's really not the card that is at issue now is it?

    June 27, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  16. Introbulus

    Funny thing about McDaniel calling voter intimidation on Cochran. My friend who lives in Mississipi was bullied away from the polls when asked about his political affiliation.

    Which by the way, you're not legally allowed to ask at a polling station.

    June 27, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  17. J RUss

    so ensuring the election was fair is not in the best interest of Mississippi?

    June 27, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  18. jmercantilist

    McDaniel carries some negatives but he is more pro American worker, anti-cheap labor and more pro rule of law than Cochran. On this issue Barbra Jordan and Cesar Chavez would have supported him.

    June 27, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  19. xplorer

    Only one man was ever a majorslave trader in Alabama. Nathanial Whitfield... and most slavery lasted less than 20 years...

    June 27, 2014 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  20. what up

    McDaniel couln't do what Cochran did, that's why he's having a hissy fit. Imagine McDaniel courting the black vote? That's political suicide with the Racists Par....oops, I mean the Tea Party.

    June 27, 2014 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  21. Henry M

    Most of you don't see anything wrong with Cochran asking Demos to vote for him. However now he is beholding to them and they will want their payback. This is just like Obama being elected on lies. A lot of Obama supporters are finally waking up, after Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS, and several other scandals, and seeing that is what he is like. Cochran used tactics he knew, or should have known, was uneithical. If any of those crossover voters are proving to be illegal, then the person who did it should be fined $50,000 and in jail for 9 months.

    June 27, 2014 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  22. Ralph in Orange Park FL

    His whining like a rugrat should really help in the general election.

    June 27, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  23. SK

    This is further proof that even in red states it's the liberals who want the pork. Thad Cochran promised it to black Democrats, and they voted for him based on it. The Tea Party ran on opposition to gov't pork and other forms of wealth transfer, and the opponents of the Tea Party are slanderous government-dependents.

    June 27, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  24. Henry M

    Also this country is sinking down to new lows. We can't even trust our elected officials.

    June 27, 2014 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  25. Wootings

    Translation:

    Tea Party: WAAAAAAAH!

    People with brains: [rolleyes]

    June 27, 2014 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
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